Taxing the Rich Wins in Oregon



Thousands of Oregon workers fought valiantly over the past weeks to ensure that corporations and the rich will see their taxes raised, so that social services, health care, and education could be saved. Massive phone banking operations, door-to-door canvassing, and rallies were used by union and community members to educate the public about a progressive tax measure used to offset the state’s dire budget situation.

The campaign was indisputably class war, and the corporations came out firing — virtually every newspaper in Oregon shed their alleged “objectivity” and exposed their subservience to the corporations. Oregon’s largest newspaper, The Oregonian, displayed giant front page ads —daily — in order to defeat the measures (part of the ad showcased an article by Phil Knight —founder of Oregon company Nike — who spoke of corporate apocalypse if the tax measures passed). This, along with the countless false advertisements on TV and radio, shows the high level of understanding that workers in Oregon displayed in voting to pass the measures by a landslide.

The new taxes are hardly radical; if anything they are insufficient compared to Oregon’s budget problems. Oregon’s corporate minimum tax was raised from $10 a year — no typo here — to $150. Corporations with profits over $250,000 a year will pay an additional 1.3 percent on profits over that amount.

Wealthy individuals — those making over $125,000 or couples making $250,000 will pay an additional 1.8 percent above those numbers. Most Oregonians — 97.5 percent — will see no tax increase. These minuscule tax increases caused Oregon’s corporate elite to feverishly organize to defeat the bill. Their stranglehold over the media was no match for well-organized working-class Oregonians.

Originally, the tax increase was passed by Oregon’s legislature, where the Democrats enjoy a supermajority. The Democrats were under immense pressure from Oregon’s unions, who, commendably, advanced the “tax the rich” measure to the point where the Democrats had to act. Though the tax increases were small, they were nevertheless progressive, saving Oregon’s budget $733 million in cuts.

The corporations mobilized, and paid signature gatherers to collect enough signatures to put the tax increase to a voter referendum.

The ensuing campaign caught the attention of the nation, where precedent is now set in favor of all working people. Corporations and unions from out of state contributed funds to help sway Oregon’s campaign, knowing that their fates were linked. Now, Oregon will hopefully serve as an example to other states experiencing budget crises and consequent cuts to education and social services.

Oregon’s vote coincides with President Obama’s national budget, where social services are being “frozen” — in reality reduced. Thus, Oregon gives inspiration for solutions to state and federal budget crises, where in both cases the working class has been carrying the brunt of the recession’s effects.

Union and community groups everywhere must follow Oregon’s example. Tax the rich and the corporations! No to cuts in education, health care, and social services!

SHAMUS COOKE is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action. He can be reached at shamuscook@yahoo.com


Weekend Edition
October 9-11, 2015
David Price – Roberto J. González
The Use and Abuse of Culture (and Children): The Human Terrain System’s Rationalization of Pedophilia in Afghanistan
Gary Leupp
The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st  Century
Mike Whitney
Putin’s “Endgame” in Syria
Jason Hribal
The Tilikum Effect and the Downfall of SeaWorld
Paul Street
Hope in Abandonment: Cuba, Detroit, and Earth-Scientific Socialism
Andrew Levine
In Syria, Obama is Playing a Losing Game
Louis Proyect
The End of Academic Freedom in America: the Case of Steven Salaita
John Feffer
Mouths Wide Shut: Obama’s War on Whistleblowers
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: Europe’s Left Batting 1000
Brian Cloughley
Hospital Slaughter and the US/NATO Propaganda Machine
John Walsh
For Vietnam: Artemisinin From China, Agent Orange From America
Robert Fantina
Canadian Universities vs. Israeli Apartheid
Paul Craig Roberts
The Impulsiveness of US Power
Philippe Marlière
Class Struggle at Air France
Binoy Kampmark
Waiting in Vain for Moderation: Syria, Russia and Washington’s Problem
Paul Edwards
Empire of Disaster
Margaret Knapke
These Salvadoran Women Went to Prison for Suffering Miscarriages
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Halyna Mokrushyna
On Ukraine’s ‘Incorrect’ Past
Walter Brasch
Mass Murders are Good for Business
William Hadfield
Sophistry Rising: the Refugee Debate in Germany
Christopher Brauchli
Why the NRA Profits From Mass Shootings
Pete Dolack
There is Still Time to Defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership
Andre Vltchek
Stop Millions of Western Immigrants!
Dave Lindorff
America’s Latest War Crime
Ann Garrison
Sankarist Spirit Resurges in Burkina Faso
Cesar Chelala
The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots
Franklin Lamb
Official Investigation Needed After Afghan Hospital Bombing
Linn Washington Jr.
Wrongs In Wine-Land
Charles R. Larson
Prelude to the Spanish Civil War: Eduard Mendoza’s “An Englishman in Madrid”
October 08, 2015
Michael Horton
Why is the US Aiding and Enabling Saudi Arabia’s Genocidal War in Yemen?
Ben Debney
Guns, Trump and Mental Illness
Pepe Escobar
The NATO-Russia Face Off in Syria
Yoav Litvin
Israeli Occupation for Dummies
Lawrence Davidson
Deep Poverty in America: the On-Going Tradition of Not Caring
Thomas Knapp
War Party’s New Line: Vladimir Putin is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
Brandon Jordan
Sowing the Seeds of War in Uruguay
Binoy Kampmark
Imperilled by Unfree Trade: the TPP on Environment and Labor
John McMurtry
The Canadian Elections: Cover-Up and Steal (Again)
Anthony Papa
Coming Home: an Open Letter to 6,000 Soon-to-be-Released Drug War Prisoners From an Ex-Con
Ramzy Baroud
Listen to Syrians: The Media Jackals and the People’s Narrative
Norman Pollack
Heart of Darkness: A Two-Way Street
Gilbert Mercier
Will Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Iraqi Shiite Militias Defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq?
John Stanton
Vietnam 2.0 and California Dreamin’ in Ukraine
William John Cox
The Pornography of Hatred